Yasser is a Senior Science Manager in Germany. He joined AWS in August 2019.
HereAtAWS: Tell us about your career journey. What brought you to your current role at AWS?
Yasser: I am originally from Iran. I grew up in Germany having moved here when I was five years old. I studied mathematics with a minor in computer science and I wrote my doctoral theses on control theory at the University of Stuttgart and ETH Zurich. After gathering industrial experience in project management, I joined Bosch Research in 2013 as a group head in cognitive systems and machine learning. There I built up the AI research, which resulted in the foundation of the Bosch Center for AI in 2016, where I headed the international research team focusing on creating safe, robust and explainable AI solutions for intelligent Bosch products. Intrigued by the opportunity to build both research-heavy and customer & product-centric AWS teams, I left Bosch in 2019 to join AWS in my current role.
HereAtAWS: Can you explain in simple terms: your role, who your customers are, and how you help them?
Yasser: I am responsible for two different teams which address AWS’ customers in different ways: the lablet and the causality lab. While the lablet pursues curiosity-driven research and academic impact, the causality lab develops solutions and tools which make causality applicable on real-world problems.
Thus, my customers range from the scientific AI community and the general public, to business owners and data scientists. Causality helps our customers understand and reason about data, how interventions might affect outcomes, e.g. how to arrive at fair decisions or which action to choose in order to increase the revenue of a service. For this, causal inference provides a toolbox of formalisms, algorithms, and statistical guarantees. Our mission in the causality lab is to provide automated tools for causal analysis to our customers.
HereAtAWS: What technical and/or soft skills do you need to succeed in your role?
Yasser: Of course, in order to be able to evaluate AI techniques and to dive deep, I need the ability to understand the mathematics behind causality, machine learning, and the concepts therein. More importantly though, my role is that of a leader who supports his team and helps the team members to be successful. Thus, the abilities to develop and express a motivating vision, to communicate openly and empathically, and to provide guidance are essential to success in my role.
HereAtAWS:Have you had to learn any specific new skills (technical or soft) for your role?
Yasser: The Amazonian culture is indeed as peculiar as they say, and I am constantly learning and adapting to it!
HereAtAWS: How does your work with customers help to make a positive impact on society?
Yasser: Apart from our contributions to advance the state of science, our causality work will help society to embrace AI without compromising on important values such as fairness, integrity, and accountability (transparency of automated decision making).
HereAtAWS: At work, are you involved in any activities outside of your role?
Yasser: Honestly, I don’t think there is much I would count as “not in my role”. For instance, we did local community volunteering efforts last year, and as a leader, I would consider a participation part of my role. At AWS we never say “That’s not my job”.
HereAtAWS: What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Yasser: Pushing the boundaries of what people consider doable. This is true technically, e.g. what we do in causality, but it also applies to processes (e.g. supporting employees in their career path) or business impact (e.g., finding and winning new customers).
HereAtAWS:What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Yasser: I still need to improve on writing narratives. This is mostly because in my previous work experience I simply didn’t do that. But I am getting better and it is generally a great work way of working.
HereAtAWS: Do you have any needs or commitment that require flexibility in your role?
Yasser: I am married, and we have three small kids, and my wife works full time too, so I am very fortunate that I have the flexibility in my role to maintain good work/life harmony.
HereAtAWS: What do you love to do outside work?
Yasser: Expanding the garden playground (for my kids), smart-home-upgrading my house, going out with my wife, playing computer games.
HereAtAWS:What advice would you give people joining AWS?
Yasser: I would recommend them, if possible, to work in Seattle for a few weeks. I had the opportunity to do this and it was really worth it.
HereAtAWS:What three words would you use to describe workdays at AWS?
Yasser: Learning a lot.